For the first time ever, the Seoul Metropolitan Government won the United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) in four out of five categories in 2013.
Programs that brought recognition to Seoul Metropolitan Government include: Seoul Welfare Standards for fostering citizens’ participation in public policy decision making; Eco-Mileage System for fostering citizens’ participation through innovative mechanisms; Comprehensive initiatives for female single-person households for the gender-responsive delivery of public services, and; Anti-corruption clean construction system for preventing and combating corruption in public services.
UNPSA is the most prestigious international institution recognizing excellence in public service.
In 2013, the entire Asia and the Pacific region were given 12 awards. Seoul Metropolitan Government won one third of them – 4 awards. It is the largest number of UNPSA awards ever to be given to a single organization. Seoul has also emerged as an entity that has received the most number of awards from UNPSA ever since its inception.
▶ Universal welfare standards enabled by and for the citizens of Seoul
Seoul Metropolitan Government’s “Seoul Welfare Standards” were recognized in UNPSA Category 3, “Fostering participation in public policy decision making through innovative mechanisms.” The standards reflect the characteristics of Seoul, a first by any municipal or provincial government in the country. They take into account the actual prices and standards of living of the city’s residents. The standards are the citizens’ Welfare Charter and the city government’s Welfare Guidelines that guarantee a decent life for the citizens regardless of the circumstances.
The fact that a large number of citizens have participated in the establishment of the standards – including 162 private-public governance meetings – impressed the UN evaluation group. Seoul was also rated highly for having held a 1,000-citizen roundtable discussion for the final review of the standards.
Through the standards, Seoul Metropolitan Government has established both the “minimum level of life” that must be guaranteed for its citizens and the “appropriate level of life” recommended for citizens to enjoy quality life in five major areas: income, housing, care, health, and education. Seoul has come up with a total of 102 specific programs necessary to guarantee a decent level of life for its citizens, and one of them is “Seoul-Type Basic Livelihood Security.”
“Eco-Mileage System” for engaging citizens in GHG emissions reduction efforts
Like the Seoul Welfare Standards, Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Eco-Mileage was also recognized in UNPSA Category 3, “Fostering participation in public policy decision making through innovative mechanisms.” The mileage program is aimed at reducing GHG emissions and global warming. It is also the key element of One Less Nuclear Power Plant, which is being promoted by Seoul Metropolitan Government as its flagship energy policy goal.
Subscription to the program is easy. Any household or business in town can become a member online through a simple procedure. Seoul Metropolitan Government checks Eco-Mileage members’ consumption of energy – including electricity, water, LNG, and district heating — and discloses the information online so that members can trace the changes in their energy consumption.
As incentives for citizens’ energy conservation efforts, the city government offers LED lamps, power-saving multi-taps, and transportation card charge rights (called T-coin) – all eco-friendly products — to individuals. It provides businesses with the funds necessary to enhance energy efficiency and plant trees.
▶ Comprehensive initiative for women of single-person households
In UNPSA Category 5, “Promoting the gender-responsive delivery of public services,” Seoul Metropolitan Government’s comprehensive initiative for female single-person households was selected.
Previously, the municipal policy focused on the traditional concept of families. The reality is that Seoul is witnessing a change in social fabric and an increasing number of single-female households (450,000 persons). The initiative is widely recognized as Seoul’s representative policy attempting to cope preemptively with the rapidly changing demographics of Seoul.
The city begins with providing small public rental housing exclusively for single-female households.
In addition, the city government transforms old unused public buildings into multi-use buildings exclusively for single-female households dubbed “Safe Houses for Single Females.” It also constructs “Dormitories Exclusively for Female College Students” near colleges and universities in town.
To prevent crimes targeting females, the city government offers single-female households the Home Anti-Theft Service in collaboration with a professional security company at minimal costs. It also runs the “Safe Package Delivery Service” for females. For females who have to take the bus late at night, the “Safe Return Home Service” is provided. In addition, the city government supports online single-female household communities and helps single female households set up businesses. It has opened a professional clinic exclusive for women in a well-established general hospital.
▶ Anti-corruption clean construction system
In UNPSA Category 1, “Preventing and combating corruption in public service,” Seoul Metropolitan Government’s anti-corruption clean construction system was particularly rated highly for its computerized management system.
The online system consists of the “Integrated Construction Information System” that manages municipal projects systematically and scientifically, “Construction Declarer” that discloses all information related to public works, and “Payment e-Immediately” that discloses and oversees the payment processes from the prime contractor to subcontractors to protect the latter’s rights.
“One-PMIS (Project Management Information System)” is designed to enable the city government to manage all of its construction projects systematically. Everyone related to each project can share information on the materials, manpower, and equipment of the project in real time; thus guaranteeing systematic project management and transparent construction administration at the same time.
Most notably, “Payment e-Immediately” ensures that a prime contractor has paid its subcontractors and materials and equipment vendors as well as its workers before receiving monthly progress payments from the city government. In collaboration with financial institutions, the monthly payments are made instantly to the prime contractor once all its payables are settled. This system has already been borrowed not just by regional governments such as Busan Metropolitan City but also by central government agencies and even private businesses in Korea. Thus, the system is contributing greatly to fair trade and shared growth in the construction industry in Korea.